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Labour calls for inquiry into British complicity with the Amritsar massacre

SIKHS and Labour MPs have demanded an independent public inquiry into the alleged cover-up of the British military’s involvement in the 1984 massacre at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India.

A report called Sacrificing Sikhs was launched yesterday at a meeting in Westminster held by Sikh Federation UK, where its author Phil Miller criticised the government for hiding “an awful lot” of information about the massacre and only releasing documents by accident.

Around 150,000 Indian army troops were ordered by Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi to the Sikh holy site — when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister — as part of a plan known as Operation Blue Star to remove Sikh separatists occupying the temple.

The precise death toll is still disputed with those killed estimated at around 400 by the Indian goverment and over 1,000 by Sikh investigators.

A number of top secret British government files from 1984 were declassified under the 30-year rule three years ago.

It was revealed by three letters that Ms Thatcher had sent an SAS special forces officer to Amritsar to advise the Indian authorities on how to remove Sikh dissidents months before the Indian army launched its attack, Mr Miller told attendees at the Commons.

In 2014, then prime minister David Cameron told Parliament that he was ordering Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood to conduct an internal review into the revelations.

The limited review was completed just a fortnight later and was slammed by Labour MP Preet Kaur Gill for being a “complete whitewash” as Mr Heywood had classified another five letters.

Mr Cameron ordered another review into the release of government files by the National Archive. It concluded that there should be “no more inadvertent disclosures” of top secret information.

The author of the report, Phil Miller, said: “Whitehall censorship of historical files is like an old boys’ club that prevents the public from ever knowing how taxpayers’ money was spent.

“This culture of secrecy around Britain’s special forces and intelligence agencies is undemocratic and unsustainable.”

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson had asked Mr Cameron in 2014 about whether British backing of the massacre had anything to do with lucrative arms deals with India at the time.

Mr Cameron replied in the Commons that it was a “conspiracy theory.”



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